Meet the Correspondent: Marina Grechanik > Tel-Aviv, Israel$show=/search/label/Marina%20Grechanik

"Sketching is one of my passions. I don't feel comfortable when I leave home without a sketchbook and some pens in my bag. I think that my way to put things in my memory is to draw them. And taking pictures isn't the same thing.

I live in a very dynamic surrounding — Israel is a warm country with warm weather and warm people. Of course, we have seashores, which calm us a little bit. I love to sit in a corner of some Tel-Aviv coffee shop and explore relationships: between people, their environment, between myself. All this unique local mix of cultures, languages and styles is always a great source for inspiration. You need to be fast, because, as I said, everything is very dynamic. But that's why I love it so much.

Sometimes, I look around, and I find some usual items like sugar bags or napkins. I use them in my drawings to show the atmosphere. Sometimes I draw directly on placemats."

• Marina's art on Flickr.
• Marina's website.

Meet the Correspondent: Tina Koyama > Seattle$show=/search/label/tina%20koyama

"The dictionary says that a hobby is “an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation.” Although urban sketching certainly provides both pleasure and relaxation, I don’t think of it as my hobby. I think of it more as a way of life – something that has become such a normal part of my everydayness that it shapes how I view the world.

For most of my life I had both the fear of drawing as well as the desire to draw. In 2011, inspired by Gabi Campanario’s Seattle Sketcher column, I finally decided to overcome the fear. His drawings of Seattle – my birthplace and lifelong home – were of sights that I had seen many times, yet had never truly seen. I wanted to learn to see, and therefore experience, those locations (and any new ones that I travel to) more completely. Part 8 of the Urban Sketchers Manifesto, to “show the world, one drawing at a time,” has a flip side: Sketching enables me to see my own world, one drawing at a time.

In the last four years, it is not an exaggeration to say that Urban Sketchers has changed my life. I have met and sketched with many wonderful people around the globe, either at symposiums or during other travel, because the USk network brought us together. I sketch almost weekly with my local group, sharing sketches, art supplies and friendship. Even when I stay home and enjoy sketches online, I am still a part of that rich network, learning with every sketch about other people’s lives.

In May, my husband Greg and I went to France for the first time, and I sketched the Eiffel Tower. Sketching one of the world’s most famous icons felt like a dream come true – the ultimate in urban sketching. But although I can’t resist sketching world-famous icons whenever I’m fortunate enough to see them, for me, urban sketching is much more than that.

Urban sketching is a tree with its middle chopped away to accommodate Seattle’s ubiquitous power lines. It’s about a couple of women chatting over coffee, or about workers roofing the house next door. It’s about an excavator filling a hole where a cherry tree once stood. Or the Tibetan monastery I drive by frequently that I couldn’t resist because it’s bright orange. Urban sketching is a string band performing at a local farmers’ market – or perhaps in Villefranche-sur-Mer.

Celebrating the mundane as well as the famous is what urban sketching is all about. My sketches are not necessarily about “special” moments; they are moments made special because I sketched them."

Tina has been editor of Drawing Attention since 2013 and now serves on the Urban Sketchers editorial board. See more of her sketches on her blog, on Flickr and on Instagram.

Meet the Correspondent: Pete Scully > Davis, Calif.$show=/search/label/Pete%20Scully

"I am from urban north London, but now live in urbane Davis California. I sketch, I write, sometimes do things and go places and my name is Pete.

When not Davis, I sketch Sacramento, San Francisco, London, or anywhere else I happen to be. I tend to erase people and cars from my cities, but I'm starting to get over this.

Davis: calm, old-fashioned, progressive, quirky, very very hot in the summer. I use micron and copic pens, with watercolour."

• Pete's blog.
• Pete's art on Flickr.

Meet the Correspondent: Suhita Shirodkar > San Jose, Calif.$show=/search/label/Suhita%20Shirodkar

"I was born in Mumbai (Bombay) and lived in different parts of India until I moved to San Jose, California, where I now live.

Travel inspires my art, but, traveling or not, I try to view the world around me as a traveller would; so whether I’m capturing a moment of calm on the banks of the Ganges in India, or sketching over coffee at my local coffee shop, I aim to look deeply, and with wonder, at both the everyday and the exotic, the old and the new.

I love color. My sketch kit consists of Extra Fine Sharpies (the fact that they bleed into the paper as soon as they touch it works really well for me—it forces me to work super-quick), a small set of Prismacolor pencils and a little watercolor travel set".

Meet the Correspondent: Omar Jaramillo > Berlin$show=/search/label/Omar%20Jaramillo

"I was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, where I studied architecture. I moved to Kassel (Germany) in 1999 to accomplish a master degree. Although I have always drawn and paint, it was not until I started studying in the Uni-Kassel, that I started keeping a travel sketchbook. I had a teacher there who used to do a lot of sketches when he travelled on university excursions. When he retired, I helped to organize an exhibition of his sketches. He brought a huge box full of sketchbooks he had filled since he was an architecture student. I spent a whole day selecting the most interesting drawings. It was a wonderful experience that opened my eyes to a new world. In the last 10 years I have the feeling of being in a long journey. I like to discover the cities where I live, to understand why a place is the way it is and what makes it different and unique from others. Drawing is for me a way to learn to love a place, to become part of it. I like to draw architecture but I am more attracted to urban scenery, portraying how people live in the city. Since I’m a foreigner, everything that locals find normal and taken-for-granted, for me is exotic. I always carry a small watercolor travel set from Windsor and Newton and my sketchbook in my bag. I always thought that drawing was a solitary experience until I found Urban Sketchers. It was amazing to find so many people doing the same thing. It is a great place to share!" • Omar's blog. • Omar's art on flickr. • Omar's website.

Meet the Correspondent: Luis Ruiz > Malaga, Spain$show=/search/label/Luis%20Ruiz

Rescuing migrants at sea on board HMS Bulwark

Guest post by Dan Peterson

I joined HMS Bulwark in Malta on the 15th June. The ship’s crew were getting ready to return to sea after a few days respite following their largest rescue of 1200 migrants in the Mediterranean just the week before. I was on board to observe and record, using illustration. Bulwark’s current mission, known as Op WEALD, is the UK's contribution to SOLAS (Saving Of Life At Sea) Operations.

We steamed out of Malta on 17th June and headed for the Libyan coast. It takes a few days to get there so training was going on all over the ship. This drawing shows the flight controller making notes on the window of the Flight Control Room during a training exercise.

On Saturday 20th June a Merlin from 814 Squadron during its early morning sortie, spotted three migrant vessels in need of rescue.

I made my way down into the cavernous vehicle deck that runs over three quarters the length of the ship. I climbed on board one of the four landing craft to join a Navy Medic and a group of Royal Marine Commandos. I was handed a pair of surgical gloves and a face mask to wear. The entire stern of the ship was lowered and the dock section of the vehicle deck was flooded with water so that we could sail out.

I sketched as an overcrowded migrant boat came into view. Two smaller landing craft circled around the migrant boat as the Marines threw them bright orange life jackets. Below: a smaller landing craft in the foreground, the migrant boat, a larger landing craft and then the Bulwark on the horizon.

The number of people on board the migrant boat was bewildering. I tried to draw them but ended up just outlining the figures. Once the migrants put on the life jackets, the Marines loading them into their landing craft and ferried them to our bigger craft.

The relief on their faces as they stepped onto our deck, took off their life jackets, and sat down was obvious. There was a mix of nationalities. Some were barefoot whilst others looked like they’d just stepped off a plane well dressed for a special trip. There were small children, babies, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends. I was impressed by the patience and calmness of the Marines as they went about the task of loading the craft until it was almost as full as the one they’d been rescued from. I sat on some large boxes drawing as we made our way back into the belly of the Bulwark.

The large image above was sketched on a piece of paper cut down from A3 so that it fits on a board I can fit in my back pack. I added colour when back on the ship.

I had a number of drawings on the go during the journey back to the Bulwark with the large one and this smaller close-up of mother and child being the most successful.

The first thing that happens when the migrants climb up the incline onto the vehicle deck of the ship is a thorough search by men and women in white medical overalls, surgical masks and gloves. I found an excellent vantage point to overlook this from a mezzanine used as the ship's gym. I sat among the treadmills and weights finishing the larger scene as I could still see into the backs of the landing craft as they off-loaded load after load of migrants.

The sick are taken to the medical tent to be examined and treated by Navy Medics. Here is a young 17-year-old man being treated for scabies. Others are put on IV drips and issued antibiotics. Great care is taken to avoid cross infection as many of the migrants come from countries where there is little access to healthcare.

The vehicle deck fills, and with the line of chemical toilets in constant use the whole scene starts to resemble a bizarre rock festival. In the bright Mediterranean sunshine the swarm of people spreads. By the time the loading is over there are 914 survivors on board of whom 133 were women, many pregnant, and 39 below the age of 18.

During the day-and-a-half sail from the coast of Libya to the port of Taranto in Italy, I interviewed a number of the migrants. Each has their own story – all of harrowing journeys from bleak situations. This group of young men are from Eritrea and Somalia. They are all economic migrants, paid for by their families to seek work for money they can send back to their families. Mohamed has been with the people smugglers for two years. At times he thought he would never make it.

By being directly involved with the migrants in the way the men and woman of the Naval Services have been each and every one of the crew members I spoke to are proud of the work they are doing. They are committed to SOLAS - Saving Of Life At Sea. They see the migrants as the people they are – fathers and mothers with children, infants and babies. Brothers and sisters. Friends both old and newly discovered during their extraordinary journeys.

Dan Peterson is a freelance illustrator based in Cardiff, Wales. In 2011 he accompanied the British Army to Helmand Province, Afghanistan as an Official War Artist. His current work includes concept illustrations and storyboarding for film and television such as The Lan film project, board games and various editorial illustrations for magazines. He is a Tutor at Cardiff School of Art and Design, Cardiff Metropolitan University. His next reportage illustration trip will be to Bangladesh, later this year.

Read more about my time on board HMS Bulwark on my blog or Twitter at @DanSPeterson.





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